c.1890 "Imperial" Bowlback Mandolin

Not sure who exactly made this, but it's branded "Imperial" out of Cincinnati. It's a nice rosewood-bowled mando, with 30 ribs and profuse decoration... pretty MOP down an ebony fretboard, fancy shaped ebony bridge, nice multicolored purfling, pretty pickguard, etc.

I was given this by a local acquaintance and so it'll be staying "in the family." It was his father's who played in a bunch of bands in the 20s/30s, and he'll be getting to hear it for the first time (in a long time) this evening. I've repaired and set it up over the past few days... work included pulling the fretboard to reglue and slightly reshape, regluing braces, setup, cleaning, etc.

The "strap" is off of another period bowlback mandolin... came in a case with one and I've stowed it away ever since waiting for the "right instrument."

Gotta love the tulip inlay!

...and that purfling, too!

Neck looks like cedar to me... but has some curly figure in it which is quite nice.

Bowl is in fabulous shape.

Tone is very classical -- precise, balanced, neither favoring treble or bass. It's got nice sustain with that typical sort of "dry" quality most bowlbacks possess. Sounds great playing some strathspeys and reels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just received my grandfather's mandolin from my brother and it's almost an exact match. There are a couple of differences but not many at all. I've been looking all over and was surprised to see this. Do you have any idea of the value? Mine needs to be cleaned but otherwise appears to be in good shape for all of my lack of knowledge. Thanks, Lorrie